The Philadelphia Phillies shutout the host Miami Marlins at Marlins Park in South Florida in the opener of a three game series as trade rumors swirled around the two teams.
The Phillies got a tremendous starting pitching performance on Monday night from Jeremy Hellickson, who may have been directly auditioning for his next big league team.
Hellickson tossed six scoreless frames, and the Phillies went on to register a combined shutout in a 4-0 victory over the host Miami Marlins.
As the Phillies arrived in South Florida, strong trade rumors had the Phils scouting the Marlins lower level minor league team in the Gulf Coast League for possible upside prospects that might make a deal possible.
Meanwhile, Hellickson took the mound and dominated. The righty trade chip allowed just one hit and walked one over his six innings, firing 45 strikes among his 70 pitches.
His sharp breaking ball was working all night, and Hellickson was never in trouble despite a game that was still 0-0 when he left the affair for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the 6th inning.
The game was still tied thanks to a similarly fine performance from Marlins starter Jarred Cosart, who allowed just three hits and a walk over five innings.
The difference in this one turned out to be the performances of the two bullpens, which coming in appeared to be a matchup that favored the Fish.
But David Hernandez, Hector Neris, and Jeanmar Gomez each tossed a shutout frame for the Phillies to keep the Marlins off the board for the duration.
In the top of the 7th, the Phillies put the first two runners on base. But righty Kyle Barracclough recovered to strike out the final three batters in succession to get out of the jam.
The Phillies finally got to new Marlins setup man Fernando Rodney after the NL All-Star had struck out the first two batters in the top of the 8th. With two outs, Maikel Franco drew a four-pitch walk.
Up to the plate stepped rookie 1st baseman, who took a ball and then rifled the second pitch into the left-center field alley. The ball rolled to the wall, Franco rumbled all the way around the bases, and the Phillies had a 1-0 lead.
In the top of the 9th with another NL All-Star, closer A.J. Ramos, on the hill for the Fish, the Phillies erupted for three runs to put it away.
Ramos hit Cody Asche and was replaced by Tyler Goeddel as a pinch-runner. Peter Bourjos then laid down a bunt single, and the Phils were in business again.
Phils’ skipper Pete Mackanin called on Jimmy Paredes to pinch-hit for Neris, and Paredes laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move the runners into scoring position. When Cesar Hernandez followed with a base hit, Goeddel scored, and it was a 2-0 Phillies lead.
Hernandez then stole 2nd with Odubel Herrera at the plate. With runners again at 2nd and 3rd, Herrera grounded sharply at Marlins’ shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, who fired home in an attempt to get Bourjos at the plate.
Hechavarria’s throw was wide of the plate, allowing Bourjos to score easily. Hernandez never stopped running, making up for an earlier base running gaffe that had cost the Phillies a run by scoring all the way from 2nd base to make the final score of a 4-0 margin.
“After the seventh inning after we didn’t score, I didn’t think we had a chance to win this game,” Mackanin said per MLB.com contributors. “I just thought that their bullpen — we were in trouble. Joseph’s big hit off of Rodney, who’s tough to hit, that was huge, obviously.”
Gomez came on in the bottom of the 9th to set the Marlins down in order, upping his own trade value in the process, and the Phillies had a win that pulled them back within eight games of the NL Wilcard spot, for those still holding out such hopes.